Friday, 18 October, 2019

FCC to hold big 5G auction, spend $20B for rural internet

A cellular phone tower. The Trump administration will soon auction more bandwidth to allow 5G wireless service A cellular phone tower. The Trump administration will soon auction more bandwidth to allow 5G wireless service
Russell Knight | 14 April, 2019, 18:27

While Trump said the new networks "have to be guarded from the enemy", an opponent that went unnamed, he also indicated speed as a top priority for rolling out 5G.

In an event at the White House Friday, President Trump and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced two initiatives to "ensure US leadership" in connectivity.

"We can not allow any other country to outcompete the United States in this powerful industry of the future", Trump said in the White House Roosevelt Room, flanked by a group of telecommunications tower climbers and farmers.

According to the FCC, 5G networks promise faster speeds, lower lag times, and more capacity.

For more than a year, the White House has been mulling an executive order that would direct the Commerce Department to block US companies from buying equipment from foreign telecommunications makers that pose significant national security risks, Reuters reported in December.

In October, the president signed off on a memo directing the creation of a national spectrum strategy for keeping the United States at the forefront of 5G wireless network technology, a move the administration says is vital for the good of the economy and national security.

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- Big auction: FCC will begin its third 5G spectrum auction on December 10, 2019, which will be the largest spectrum auction in American history to date for commercial use.

Trump on Friday said the 5G industry in the United States would be "private sector-driven and private sector-led", so the USA government does not have to spend lots of money.

"We want to get this program stood up as soon as we can, because we recognize the need to close that digital divide in rural America", Pai told reporters on a Friday morning conference call. It has effectively banned Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei from most USA networks due to concerns that it might enable Chinese government spying, which the Huawei denies. The U.S. has pushed its allies to do the same, with mixed results.

Huawei has repeatedly denied it poses a risk, even as US officials say the Shenzhen-based company may be obligated by law to cooperate with Chinese security services.

The new 5G networks "will improve Americans' lives in so many ways", FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. "The FCC is making more spectrum available than any other country in the world and we're taking steps going tin the future to make sure we maintain that leadership position", said Pai in an interview with Yahoo Finance. She cited tariffs on telecom equipment that have raised costs and said the administration has been "alienating allies" on the 5G security issue.

The administration plans to create a $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to expand networks over the next decade in regions lacking high-speed service.

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